How Long Is Too Long? The Prespiked Intravenous Debate

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As the number of operative cases increases, there is a greater emphasis on reducing inefficiency while maintaining patient safety. Recently, the issue of prespiking intravenous (IV) bags was raised. No study has assessed whether the risk of infection is related to the length of time a sterile (IV) fluid bag has been spiked. After completion of a pilot study revealed no microbial growth within 24 hours of an IV spike, a larger formal study was undertaken to determine whether there was an increased infection risk within 4 hours of spiking an intravenous fluid bag.


Five IV administration sets were spiked and hung in busy perioperative areas once a week for a 5-week period. Five samples were drawn from each IV set. Approximately 10 mL was collected per sample. All samples were inoculated in 2 separate growth media. If any growth was noted, the sample was marked as positive.


A total of 125 samples were collected over a period of 5 weeks, yielding 250 specimens. No samples were excluded from the study. No growth was identified in any of the specimens. The 95% confidence interval was estimated to be 0, 0.063.


There was no bacterial growth in prespiked normal saline IV bags in a perioperative environment. Thus, prespiking of normal saline IV bags in advance should pose no risk of infection to a patient if prepared within 4 hours.

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